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'Shithole' epithet turned immigration

debate into new Trump drama

Washington, January 13- After talking on the phone with US President Donald Trump on Thursday morning, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was optimistic that a compromise deal with some Republicans to protect young "Dreamer" immigrants was on the verge of success.
Less than three hours later, Durbin and a Republican colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, drove away from the White House with the deal in pieces and a controversy over offensive language about to reverberate worldwide.
At their Oval Office meeting, two sources said, Trump questioned the value of taking immigrants from Haiti and African nations, and referred to them as "shithole countries." The remarks leaked out, transforming a debate about saving from deportation some 700,000 young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children into another drama about Trump himself.
His comments drew a chorus of condemnation inside the United States and internationally, especially in Africa.
Nearly a year into Trump's presidency, members of Congress are still struggling to relate to the unorthodox Trump and his spontaneous, often crude remarks.
In a tweet on Friday, Trump denied using the word "shithole," but Durbin insisted that the president had indeed said it.


Melbourne attack has no

link to terrorism: Turnbull

Sydney, December 22- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday said the car attack incident on Thursday in Melbourne was not a terrorist act, although the suspect claimed to have acted due to mistreatment of Muslims.
The driver of the vehicle, a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent who has not yet been officially interrogated, has a history of "serious mental illness and drug abuse," Turnbull said in a press conference, Efe news reported.
Turnbull labelled the act "despicable and cowardly" but said it was "an isolated incident" as the suspect had no links to "any political issues or extremist groups." The Prime Minister further assured that the government still has not ruled anything out.
"Terrorism is politically motivated violence. At this stage, the police are not satisfied they can describe it as that, although he has made reference to the perceived mistreatment of Muslims, as a justification for his actions," Turnbull said.
He also confirmed that 19 people were injured in the incident, 12 of whom still remain in hospital, and three are in critical condition.
Among the injured are nine foreigners, including a Chinese, an Indian and a four-year-old New Zealander with head injuries.
After the incident, police arrested a second suspect, a 24-year-old man who was reportedly recording the event and carrying several knives in his backpack but the authorities believe he has no connection with the incident.


Catalan separatists win vote,

thwarting Rajoy’s bid to solve crisis

Barcelona, December 22- Separatists looked set on Friday to regain power in Catalonia after voters rejected Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s attempt to neuter the independence movement to defuse Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades.
Spanish markets recoiled at a surprise result that is also a setback for the European Union, which must now brace for more secessionist noise as it grapples with the disruption of Brexit and simmering east European discontent.
By risking an election in the wealthy region, Rajoy appears to have made the same mistake that leaders such as Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, Britain’s David Cameron and Italy’s Matteo Renzi have made in recent years: betting that voters would resolve their troublesome domestic conundrums for them.
With the count from Thursday’s Catalan Parliament election almost complete, separatist parties had secured a slim majority, sending stocks down around 1 per cent on fears that tensions with its richest region will hurt the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.
Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy. More than 3,100 firms have shifted their headquarters out of the region since the independence drive boiled up this year into a referendum that Madrid declared unconstitutional.
“More companies leaving, less economic activity there - and worse for everyone,” said the chief executive of a major listed Spanish company, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the tense climate of the independence debate.
Rajoy, who called the election after sacking the previous, secessionist government, had still not made a comment, some 12 hours after the outcome became clear. He is due to make a statement at 1300 GMT.


Campaigning for civic polls

ends, all eyes on voters

Chandigarh, December 16- Campaigning for the high-stakes civic polls ended this evening, even as about 15,000 police personnel will be on duty, manning 914 polling stations across the state during voting on Sunday. The ruling Congress is making a bid to wrest control of three municipal corporations and 32 municipal councils and nagar panchayats from the SAD-BJP alliance.
Canvassing for the civil polls is generally handled by local MLAs and district presidents of various political parties. However, this time, a section of the leadership of the Congress, SAD and the BJP has been in the thick of things. These parties are contesting the polls on their own symbol in most places. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also in the fray, though it has not been able to field candidates in some of the 639 wards going to the polls.
Usually, the results of these elections go in favour of the ruling party. During its 10-year rule, the Akali-BJP alliance had called the shots in the civic polls amid allegations of manipulation, levelled by the Congress. Now, the latter is facing similar charges. Of the 639 wards, candidates have been unanimously elected in 90 — all won by the Congress.
For the first time, the State Election Commission has ordered videography of 103 hypersensitive wards in local bodies. In Patiala, videography will be done in all 60 wards of the Municipal Corporation.
Of the 15,000 cops deployed, 4,000 have been kept as the reserve force and 2,000 are on patrolling duty, to be rushed to any location in case of an untoward incident, said State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu. As many as 3,200 EVMs, manned by 6,000 people, will be used.


SC refuses to lift ban

on crackers’ sale in region

New Delhi, December 16- The Supreme Court today refused to stay a Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict banning bursting of firecrackers in the two states and Union Territory of Chandigarh. A Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri, which had banned firecrackers in Delhi-NCR during Diwali, posted the petition for hearing on January 5.
M/s Anil Enterprises and M/s RK Trading Company have challenged the October 13 order of the HC, which had taken suo motu cognisance of air pollution. The petition said the order was adversely affecting the livelihood of a large number of people, but the Bench was not inclined to grant interim relief.

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